Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  


Dear fellow members and friends

12 January 2009

I'm very pleased that so many people liked the piece I did on Wally Newman and the old Brighton section. I found Gilbert Grover's tribute very moving; he brought home the way that World War II disrupted so many of the survivors' lives and how they struggled to put things back together in the aftermath. The Clarion's 'Fellowship is Life' was clearly much more than a slogan for Wally. Gilbert's tribute also illustrates the 'thesis' of that old Christmas favourite It's a Wonderful Life that we can never know how much our lives have affected others – for the good we hope! Certainly that is the case with Wally, as Gilbert testifies. As George Eliot says – of her hero Dorothea Brooke – in the final paragraph of Middlemarch, 'the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life.' Wally's life was not exactly 'hidden' but plainly this applies to him in every other respect.

Some of Gilbert's annotated photos of the old section are now on the 'history page'. Thanks, Fred.

Meanwhile, Mick remembers Stuart Brenchley as well as Wally. Stuart was a director of Virgo (Engineers) Ltd which went bust in the late 80s. Mick is still in touch with his former co-director and is trying to find out more about him and his Clarion activities.

I use a separate list for members (so I can send e g stuff about the national organisation or our own AGM that would be of little or no interest to non-members). There is a much much longer list that I use for these circulars. Quite a while back I started to get whole batches 'returned' so I tried dividing the list into 4 sections – which seems to have worked. The point is that whereas you can reach everyone concerned by using 'Reply All' on the members list you only get a selection of the total recipients if you try to do this with the circulars. So, if you want to tell everyone on the whole mailing list something, please send it to me and I'll include it in the next circular (very willingly) or send it on separately to all sections of the general mailing list – whichever seems most appropriate. I did explain this when I divided the list – but it's a while ago now, we've new people on the lists and in any case we all tend to forget these things after a while.

I've already thanked the people who gave me their National Clarion CC subs on New Year's Day at Carats Café. I've also received those of Adam, Amanda (& thanks for those stamps!) Annie, Bob, Chloe, Leon, Roger, both Sues and Suzanne. And I've had confirmation of his wish to renew from Tim. By my calculation that makes 20 renewals altogether so far – which still leaves 14 current members that I haven't yet heard from. As I explained last time, I'm planning to send everything off to the national Membership Secretary at the end of the month, so if you still haven't renewed please send me a cheque for £6 made out to 'National Clarion Cycling Club' My address is:-

Ian Bullock, 104 Bonchurch Road. Brighton, BN2 3PH

Alternatively, just reply to this email saying you'll give me the £6 when you next see me and I will include you in the cheque – the final one I hope – that I'll be sending to the Membership Secretary at the end of this month. Please do this while you're thinking about!

If you've changed your address since you filled in your application form please let me know so I can make sure you are on the mailing list for Boots and Spurs and national Clarion communications generally.

Welcome to two new members who've sent me application forms – Colin and Peter. I shall be sending them on to the Membership Secretary with all the renewals at the end of this month.

Anyone else not yet a member – and we've plenty on our mailing list – they can join by going to the homepage of our website, downloading and printing off the membership form, fill it in and send it to me – with your cheque, of course, made out as above. It would be handy to be able to send your form and cheque off with the renewals at the end of the month.

IoW Ride - a message from Jim
You'll remember that there were three possible dates for the IOW ride, (April 4/5, 18/19, 25/26) depending on whether the trains are running.
As trains can only be 'seen' online for the next 12 weeks, I have only just now been able to check the first of these, and the trains seem to be running OK that weekend.
I won't be able to check the trains for the 18/19th until two weeks time, and for the last weekend, a week after that. Should we go with the 4th/5th now, or wait to hear about the other dates? I seem to remember Tessa was keen on the 4th/5th date, and I don't think any other preferences were expressed.

Will all those interested please let Jim know their preferences ASAP, He's at

B&H Cycle Forum – New Cycle Path Proposals
Currently, Roger is our representative, but Jim is deputising for him at the meeting tomorrow. They disagree about what line to take on one of the agenda items. Briefly, the proposal is for a new cycle route between the Pier and the Marina. Roger's view is that this is not a sensible use of limited resources: 'We should get away from the idea that cycles need special provision wherever possible,' he writes. Jim takes the opposite view: 'To my mind the more cycle-only routes that can be provided with the money available, the better, because (a) it's safer, and (b) it gives bikes an advantage, especially if there are 'short cuts' that cars can't use, and might tempt more people to use them.'

There's little time – but I'm sure that if anyone with a strong view about this emails Jim today, he'll do his best to take their point of view into account at the Forum meeting.

The general issue may be something we need to sort out at the AGM. In the meantime, I'm sure that whoever is representing us will – while forcefully arguing his (at the moment!) case will also make it clear that views are divided. (Jim's email is above)

Planning rides
There have been several requests lately for really short rides to get people going again in the New Year. As you'll see this week's is so short that many people would think it wasn't long enough for a walk – but the great thing about this part of the world is the scenic variety you can enjoy without travelling at all far.

Future rides will be on Sundays 8 (Jim), 22 (Roger) February, 8, 22 March.

If you'd like to organise a ride:

1. Work out your route and – very important- check the trains on the possible dates making sure to research train availability – one needs to check the 'details' on the Journey Planner website to make sure it's a 'train' and not a 'replacement bus'.)

Contact me suggesting the proposed date for your ride (I'll then put your name beside the date so everyone can see what's still up for grabs).

If you've booked a date some way ahead please confirm to me that the ride is still on at least 3 weeks before.

Just before the previous ride to the one you're planning – or earlier if possible - send me the details laid out in the familiar format so I can put it straight into the next circular.

I've had an email from Leon. Here it is:

We all take it for granted that when we set out for an enjoyable day cycling with the club, that all will be trouble free. This is not always the way it turns out.

Before setting out there is a very important job to be done.
Ensure that your cycle is roadworthy.
Dress for the weather.
Take with you some basic repair equipment: pump, puncture outfit with levers, spare inner tube, and a spanner to remove a wheel if one is needed. On your bike. Other useful items to carry would be chain link, and if you're likely to be out in the dark, you need front and rear lights.

This little story could be the tale of four riders on any ride.

Let me call them Everybody, Anybody, Somebody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done, Everybody was sure Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did.
Somebody got very angry about that because it was Everybody's job.
Everybody thought Somebody would do it but Nobody realised that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.



Well he's got a point. It's also worth considering if you're not already covered, getting CTC third-party insurance via the National Clarion. Our website does make it clear that we all participate in rides at our own risk. Just to err on the side of caution, I'm going to include a similar reminder in the 'next ride' details from now on.

I have a funny piece from Brian about clichéd language. I'll put it in next time

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club in 1894 - latest episode at the end of this circular as usual



The Next Ride

Since our ride falls this year on the date of Burns' Night, I thought we ought to go somewhere with either a poetical or a Scottish association of some kind – preferably both. I expect you will instantly think of 3 or 4 – but I failed completely. We might have been OK a few decades back before what's now The Sussex Coaster in Peacehaven changed its name from The Gay Highlander (and what was wrong with that?) but the nearest I could manage was the idea of starting at Berwick. True, it's the wrong Berwick – not the one that went back and forth between Scotland and England for centuries – and some say is technically still at war with Russia having been inadvertently left out of the Treaty of Paris that concluded the Crimean War in 1856 – but it will just have to do. We did most of this ride once before, back in June 2005 when Annie, Fred, Jim, Joyce and myself were the participants. On that occasion we took a rather precarious 'overland' route to Berwick church – and then the Old Coach road – all of which I shall leave out this time!

Sunday 25 January 2009
A (different) Berwick Circular – Michelham – Arlington - Wilmington – Alfriston – Berwick.
A mere 13 miles
* refers to a 'Points of Interest' entry

We head north for a couple of miles to Upper Dicker and Michelham Priory*, which will be closed but we can go down the driveway to have a look at the gatehouse and the water mill. Then crossing the Cuckmere just after it's served as the Priory moat, we turn south along the edge of Wilmington Forest, past the Old Oak* (which we must make a lunch stop sometime) past Abbots Wood and the outskirts of Arlington. Soon after we should start to get views of the Long Man at Wilmington. Crossing the busy A27 with great care we'll go through Wilmington village. past what remains of Wilmington Priory and as close as one can get by road to the Long Man.* A little further on we will need to decide whether to take the c 400 yard track across to the little village (hamlet?) of Milton Street or carry on on the road – which will add about a mile and a half to the distance. Either way, we will have lunch at the Sussex Ox. From there, it's less than a couple of miles down the road and across the Cuckmere again to Alfriston* where I suggest we have a look round before heading back towards the A27 past Drusilas. Reaching the roundabout we can cross the busy main road with the aid of the traffic lighted crossing and once round the corner use the fairly recent cycle path back to Berwick station*.

Distance: 12/13 miles if we take the short-cut to Milton Street. 14 miles by the longer route
Hills: Not quite as flat as some recent ones. A few undulations but no big hills
Off road: just one (optional) stretch of track from the Wilmington Road across to Milton Street and the Ox
Traffic: The initial Berwick – Lower Dicker road and the Alfriston to Drusilas stretch can be busy but otherwise it should be pretty quiet
Refreshments: I checked out two possibilities for lunch – the Ox and Ye Olde Smugglers Inne at Alfriston. Both would be OK (in spite of the second one's name) and both sell Harvey's! The Smugglers promised a traditional Burns Night 'with Donald on the bagpipes' but sadly (?) that was not until the evening. So in the end I came down for the Ox for 4 reasons.

1. Alfriston is just too near the end of the ride – even for an ultra-short one

2. The Ox seems a bit more lively.

3. Easier to find somewhere safe and convenient to leave the bikes.

4. The menu at the Ox had (I assume this is typical) both vegetarian options and also advertised the possibility of 'small portions'. Starters – e g soup – were £4.50- £6.50 and mains £8.75 upwards. Presumably, 'small portions' would be cheaper! Have a look at the sample menu on the pub's website

I've booked a large table in the garden room (see website) for c 12.30 and promised to phone when we start to give them the actual number to expect

Catch 10.20 from Brighton Station or meet at Berwick Station at 10.43. Return trains at 14.48 and 15.48 Please be clear that while all are welcome to join us we each take part in rides at our own risk.

Ian's mobile number is 07770743287

Points of Interest
Berwick is an example of how the railways changed local geography. There are now more houses along the road by the station than in the orginal part of the village by the church – and Cricketers pub.

Michelham Priory: This dates from 1229 when it housed 13 Augustinian Canons. It was 'privatised' by Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. Surrounded by what The Hidden Places of Sussex describes as 'a seven acre moat' The same source says the impressive gatehouse is C14 but Pevsner's C15 is more to be trusted.

The Old Oak: According to Brigid Chapman's East Sussex Inns this one was built in 1733 as the village poorhouse for Arlington. With the 1834 New Poor Law its functions were taken over by the new Hailsham workhouse, and it became, initially, an alehouse opening only on Sundays.

Wilmington and the Long Man: According to the Sussex Archaeological Society's website:

The Long Man of Wilmington, mysterious guardian of the South Downs, has baffled archaeologists and historians for hundreds of years. 

Until recently the earliest record of Europe's largest representation of the human form was in a drawing made by William Burrell when he visited Wilmington Priory, nestling under the steep slopes of Windover Hill, home of the 235 feet high Wilmington Giant. In 1993, however, a new drawing of the Long Man was discovered, made by surveyor, John Rowley, in 1710. 

Alfriston: As most people will know, Alfriston is one of those very pretty villages where it is difficult to move for the density of other visitors in the summer. As recently as 1988 Brigid Chapman (see above) called the pub by the market cross Market Cross Inn but says that 'it became more generally associated with the Alfriston gang that it became more generally known as the Smugglers'.

The gang was led by Stanton Collins who was sentenced to 7 years transportation in 1831 for 'stealing 12 baskets of barley and 3 sacks' – which sounds a bit like Capone being done for income tax evasion. [Incidentally, I do wonder sometimes whether in a couple of hundred years time people will be trotting off to pubs with romantic sounding names like The Neighbourhood Drug Dealer, The Jolly Con-Man, and Ye Olde Insider Trader.] The pub still has an indestructible CTC sign – like the one at The Lamb at Ripe but brightly painted.

There are several more interesting inns on the high street including the Star and the George both of C15 origins. Pevsner says the Ship is 'one of the best timber-framed houses in East Sussex'.

St Andrews church – sometimes referred to rather fancifully as 'the cathedral of the Downs' is well situated. For a change from Pevsner, I will quote the description in the excellent Ancient Churches of Sussex by Ken and Joyce Whiteman:

'This imposing cruciform church, built entirely in the 14th century, has walls covered with coursed flints, skilfully knapped and squared. Rising above the central tower is a shingled broach spire... The window details are of architectural interest, demonstrating the transition from the flowing tracery of the Decorated style (N transept and chancel) to the panel tracery of the Perpendicular period.'

Near the church is the C14 timber-framed and thatched Clergy House, which in 1896 was the first building purchased by the National Trust.

The Last Ride - Suzanne's Report

Sunday 11 January 2009
Polegate to Normans Bay

[More photos on Flickr]

Clarion Rule No. 1: Stick with the group.

The first meeting of the year on the concourse of Brighton Station was well attended by Fred, Joyce, Leon, Roger and Suzanne. Result of sticking with group: one Group saver ticket.

The start

The first meeting of the year on the forecourt of Polegate Station brought the welcome addition of Anne and Mick with the essential presence of Ian, aka the ride leader or, if he's not careful, aka the Ride Captain.

Clarion Rule No. 2: Stick with the group.

The first cock up of 2009 was completed in record time with two Clarionettes zooming off up the Cuckoo Trail. Enough mobile phone calls to require a forest of masts later, the two missing souls turned up. Our absent friend, Amanda, driving down from London to join us and not wishing to be left out, also kept in touch with Fred by mobile, but by now she seemed to be irreparably lost.

Cold ducks

Turning north over the Polegate by-pass and then east to Normans Bay, we had the wind behind us, the sun above us and the Star before us – no, not the Epiphany Star in the East but the popular hostelry in the aforementioned settlement. Fred photographed the rather glum looking ducks standing on the frozen river-ette and then photographed the huge plates of food which arrived in front of the far from glum looking Mick, Ian and Leon.

Pub balti

As we were heading back into said wind, Ian kindly decided to abbreviate the trip back and goaded us on with the prospect of tea at the Loom. Pevensey castle impressed, as ever, with its square keep and Roman walls, but by now Christmas indulgence, New Year merriment and d…mned cold weather – all of which had kept us out of our saddles for stretches of time – were taking their toll. Legs began to wobble, chests began to heave, the slightest inclines were met with groans.

Roman castle

Clarion Rule No. 3: Stick with the group

And thank goodness we all followed Rule No. 3, as poor Joyce found the black ice and was down and muddy in the twinkling of an eye. Fortunately no damage done and we could all rally round to pick up Joyce and bike, both still in their original one piece. Having had a couple of contretemps with irritable lady drivers and 4x4 gas guzzlers in the country lanes, we were all put temporarily back in favour of motorists when a very kind lady stopped and helped brush our victim down with a towel – the dog towel, admittedly … but any port in a storm.

Tea was ordered and drunk and much appreciated in the space 17 minutes at the Loom and then off for the last dash back to Polegate Station for the 15.42, all perfectly timed by Ian. So many thanks to the day's Ride C………n.


[Not so much of this C…n, please? It's that Fred I blame! But weren't we so lucky with the weather on Sunday? Ian]

The Origins of the Clarion Cycling Club and cycling in the 1890s

25. 'the following' - the Birmingham CC's 'Smoker' and the first Easter Meet begins to take shape.

You'll recall that when a correspondent interested in joining the proposed Manchester Clarion CC hoped that they might 'go one better than those Birmingham chaps' Swiftsure, in 'Cycling Notes' on 29 December 1894 responded -

But judging by the following that will be a difficult matter.

Birmingham Clarion C.C. A most successful 'smoker' was held
Saturday night in Nach's hotel. The room was full, the 'Handsome One' presided, the artistes talented, and the entertainment splendiferous! The H O's way of ringing the changes on a few words was very fine – 'We are now to be favoured by a song from ________.', 'The next song will be ________ '' 'The next item on the programme _______'. 'Our next favour will be from _______' and so on. He looked very exhausted at eleven o'clock.

The O'Garbutt was responsible for most of the programme, and a good programme it was. Our next function is a big soirée early in January.


It seems to me the go-ahead character of the Birmingham Clarion C.C. will take more than a little to outshine it. The O'Groomie O also expresses to me his pleasure at the further spread of Clarion Cycling Clubs; and further says 'We are going to arrange a big meet of the Clarion C.Cs at Easter, and propose as a meeting place Ashbourne in Derbyshire. The Bradford and Potteries C.Cs have arranged to come and no doubt the others will when they hear about it. We should be glad of your assistance in pushing the matter in your notes. It is of course too early yet and my only reason for writing now is in case any other scheme might be proposed which would clash.

I shall have great pleasure in doing all in my power to make the proposed meet a success, and shall look forward personally to meeting our Birmingham and other cycling comrades in Ashbourne.

Next time. An Australian woman's remarkable feat and news of the Liverpool CCC.

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